By Nana Dariem, Abuja
Communications Minister, Dr.Isa Pantami
The Nigerian Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in partnership with the World Bank has commenced training on Innovative Business Models for Expanding Broadband and Closing Access Gaps.
The Communications Minister, Dr.Isa Pantami, who disclosed this while addressing participants of Nigeria Digital Foundations Training: Innovative Business Models for Closing the Internet Access Gap” in a virtual interaction, also commended the Apex Bank for its role in facilitating capacity building in the sector.
The training is being organized and coordinated by the World Bank.
In a statement by the Minister’s Spokesperson, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman, Dr. Pantami expressed satisfaction with the partnership between the Ministry and the financial Apex body, also said that it is yielding the desired results.
The Minister recalled that the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) was unveiled and launched by, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the 19th of March, 2020.
The new broadband plan is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage).
He noted that in order to achieve these targets, the plan focused on recommendations in 4 critical pillars, namely: Infrastructure, Policy/Spectrum, Demand Drivers and Funding/Incentives
“The Plan targets the deployment of nationwide fibre coverage to reach all State Capitals, and a point of presence in at least 90 per cent of Local Government Headquarters. In a nutshell, the Plan is aimed at the significant reduction of access gaps through the expansion of broadband access across the country”
“As at the time we commenced the process of drafting a new broadband plan to replace the expired plan, our broadband penetration in the country was just over 33 per cent. As a result of the implementation of the new plan, this broadband penetration has significantly increased to 45.07 per cent, as of November 2020. Much as these figures are impressive, we will not rest on our oars and will keep implementing initiatives to increase the broadband coverage in line with our Plan” He reiterated
Importance of broadband
While emphasising on the importance of broadband ,Dr. Pantami who explained that broadband has often been referred to as a key enabler of economic growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution also quoted a report by Ericsson titled “How Important Are Mobile Broadband Networks for Global Economic Development”, 10 per cent increase in mobile broadband penetration results in approximately 0.6 per cent to 2.8 per cent rise in gross domestic product (GDP).
He said, “Broadband supports the development of the digital economy and a focus on growing the National Digital Economy will also improve the nation’s traditional economy. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the contribution of ICT to the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria rose to 17.83% in the 2nd Quarter of 2020”
“This was unprecedented and it reflects how much of an impact technology, including broadband, can have on the economy if channelled properly. The contribution of the digital economy would even be much higher when we add the contribution of digital services to the GDP” the Minister stated
Pantami maintained that the growth that results from affordable and reliable broadband will enable Nigeria get a slice of the Global Digital Economy, which Oxford Economics valued at $11.5 trillion dollars as at 2016, or approximately 16 per cent of the Global Economy. This value is expected to grow significantly over the coming years.
He also noted with the projection of the World Economic Forum that over 60 per cent of global GDP will be digitized by 2022 and that over the next decade, digital platforms will be used to create close to 70 per cent of new value,stating that ” the most nations are prioritizing the need to develop their digital economies because they realize the multiplier effect that this can have on all other sectors of the economy” Pantami reiterated.
On the issue of Innovative Business Models for Closing the Internet Access Gap in Nigeria, the Minister disclosed that he started discussions with the World Bank team regarding the delivery of this training in December 2020. ” I then approved the participation of members of the Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC), members of the Project Management Office, staff of the parastatals under the Ministry and our stakeholders. I am delighted to note that close to 60 people will be participating in this training, many of whom have already received their certificates for completing the online self-paced training”He said
Pantami stated that that this live deep-dive session will focus on adapting the lessons from the “Innovative Business Models for Closing the Internet Access Gap” report to the Nigerian context”
He added that “We found the Report very resourceful as it covered 70 case-studies – geographically dispersed, but mainly in developing markets. The 4 simultaneous breakout sessions will also enable the participants to address the keys aspects to be considered when closing access gaps”
The Lead Facilitator of the programme and World Bank Global Broadband Specialist, Doyle Galleops expressed gratitude to the Minister for the partnership and the opportunity to facilitate the project.
The training which will also include the public and private sectors, as well as the Academia and professional bodies, is an initiative of the Ministry and the World Bank is aimed at strengthening Digital capacities in the sector, specifically in the area of broadband improvement and access.
Recalled that the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy had, in December 2020 initiated the strategy in partnership with the world bank.